VERMILION — The American Civil Liberties Union said Vermilion Schools’ proposal to drug test students violates their Fourth Amendment rights and is a waste of school resources.
Christine Link, executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the ACLU, noted the problems with the plan in a two-page letter she recently sent to the school board about the proposal.
Link said that other school districts have tried similar programs and dropped them because they were costly and ineffective.
Dublin Schools practiced student drug testing in 2006, Link said, but ended the program after only 11 of 1,473 students tested positive for drugs and the program cost taxpayers $35,000 per year. Link also cited a 2003 study from the University of Michigan in which researchers proved drug testing had no impact on student drug use.
Rather than spend the money on a program that has proven not to work and has Constitutional right implications, Link suggested the district hire a drug counselor for roughly $32,000 a year.
Vermilion Schools Superintendent Phil Pempin said the school board will consider Link’s points at its meeting July 2.
Pempin said while the ACLU raised important points to consider, the studies it cited are old and newer studies have proven student drug testing is effective.
The Vermilion school board initially considered testing all of its students, a proposal that 90 percent of parents surveyed favored, but board member Sid Jordan said the proposal would likely face legal backlash.
Pempin said the school is still considering testing students involved in extracurricular activities, but the board will not “jump into” any decisions.
Jordan said after an initial survey of community members, 74 percent of community members and parents voted in favor of drug testing students in the school district. In addition, 59 percent of students also agreed.
The school board meeting will be 7 p.m. at the school district’s Administration Office, 1230 Beechview Drive. It is open to the public.
On Wednesday, Assistant Superintendent Jim Balotta will speak to the public 6 to 8 p.m. about how the district handles substance abuse issues, ways parents can get involved and working with other school districts to do the same.
The meeting will be at the Vermilion’s Board of Education office.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or email@example.com.